Persian Rice with Dill and Lima Beans | Shevid Baghali Polo
So I haven't been to Iran, but I have made many a trip to my favorite Iranian restaurant, 'Noon O Kabab.' Does that count? Anyway, that's where I first tasted Baghali polow, their signature dill rice, served with an assortment of mouthwatering joujeh (chicken) kababs, koobideh (minced meat) kababs and lamb kababs.
Persian Dill Rice or Shevid Baghali Polo is a popular Iranian rice pilaf of fluffy, long grain basmati rice and and buttery fava or lima beans. Flavored with fresh dill and saffron, this rice goes so well with kababs. Baghali means fava bean and polo means pilaf, a particular style of cooking rice. In my recipe, I substituted fava beans with lima beans instead.
One of my idiosyncrasies when dining out, is picking apart the dish and putting myself up to the challenge of recreating it back home. Of course, some dishes are much too complicated to replicate a restaurant quality meal, but that's not the case with Baghali Polo. This rice pilaf is extremely simple to make, especially for anyone who has any experience making Indian pulaos and biryanis.
Easy One Vessel Method to Cook Persian Dill Rice
While traditional Persian rice preparations call for preparing this dish in two steps, (first, boiling the basmati rice in a lot of water until it is almost done, then straining the rice before finally finishing the cooking process using a 'Dum' slow cooking method), I find that for novice cooks this second 'dum' stage might be a bit too tricky, resulting in either overcooked or undercooked rice.
So, I've simplified the rice cooking process, to make this dish in one step, using just one vessel. As long as the cooking time is followed exactly, the end result guarantees fluffy, long-grained pilaf.
Take a close look below of a zoomed in view of the rice.
Notice how flaky and long each grain is. The grains are separate and don't stick to each other. They maintain their shape and remain unbroken. It's easy to cook rice like this if you follow the recipe below.
Persian Dill and Lima Bean Rice or Baghali Polo Recipe
☐ 4 cups salted boiling water (as salty as the sea)
☐ 1 cup fresh dill, chopped
☐ 1 7.5oz can drained and rinsed lima beans (Lima is my preference for the light green color, but you can also use green Fava beans)
☐ 1 inch stick cinnamon
☐ 2 green cardamom
☐ 4 cloves
☐ 4 tablespoons oil
☐ 1 tablespoon butter
☐ 1/2 teaspoon saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water(optional)
☐ Fried onions for topping (optional)
Step 1: Wash and soak the rice
Wash the rice and soak it in water for exactly 30 minutes.
While the rice is soaking:
- Chop up the fresh dill and keep it aside.
- Fill a saucepan with 4 cups of salted water, bring it to a boil and then simmer covered on low heat until ready to use. The boiling water should be ready around the 30 minute mark, to prevent too much of the water evaporating and messing up the water measurements.
- At the 30 minute mark, drain the soaked rice completely and set aside. The rice grains would have softened and will break easily. So, handle the rice gently and do not squeeze the rice.
Step 2: Fry spices
In a large vessel, on high heat, heat the oil and butter. Add the cinnamon, cloves and green cardamom and stir for 15-20 seconds to release the fragrance.
Step 3: Cook rice
- Add the strained rice and fry gently for 20-30 seconds. Handle the rice gently to prevent the grains from breaking.
- Pour the boiling water into rice and let it bubble uncovered on high flame. Don't move or stir the rice.
- As the liquid content starts to reduce, watch for little holes that start forming in the rice.
- At this point, cover the vessel with a tight fitting lid and reduce the heat to very low. Cook covered for 15 minutes.
- At the 15 minute mark, uncover and check the rice. Sprinkle the lima beans on top of the rice and half a cup of chopped dill. Using a fork, gently fluff up the rice. If the rice is not completely done, cover and let it steam for an additional 5 minutes.
- When done, remove the vessel from the stove. Leave it uncovered or partially covered to allow the steam to escape until it's time to serve. The rice should rest for 10-15 minutes before handling it.
Step 4: Serve
- In a serving dish, alternately layer rice with the remaining half cup of chopped dill.
- Pour the saffron water on top of the rice. (optional)
- Sprinkle with fried onions (optional), garnish with a sprig of fresh dill and serve.
This fragrant Persian dill pilaf goes beautifully with kebabs, a salad of sliced radishes, fresh parsley and salty chunks of feta cheese.
- Use a 5-6 qt. capacity non-stick pot with a well-fitting lid to cook the rice in. About 4 inches in depth and 9 inches in diameter is deep enough to cook 2-3 cups of rice without the rice getting sticky and mushy.
- Have the pre-measured water reach boiling point just as you are ready to start frying the spices and rice. Don't let the water boil any earlier as you may lose water to evaporation which will throw off the the precise water measurements required to steam the rice perfectly.
To view my other globally inspired recipes, click on the "Global" label below or take a peek at My Cookbook Index to see my entire menu.